Victoria Restaurant, 321 Bank (1978)

Victoria Restaurant, 321 Bank Street, July 4, 1978. Image: Ted Grant / LAC Series 79-01-1083.
Curtains drawn, topless dancers 6 days a week, and Darth Vader beckons passers-by into the new Discotheque. The Victoria Steak House, 321 Bank Street, January 4, 1978. Image: Ted Grant / LAC Series 78-01-1083.

A little Bank Street ephemera: the Victoria Steak House opened for business in 1977 and closed at some point in 1978. In its short time, it seems to have had a rough ride. What seems to have begun as an attempt at a quality steak house quickly came to cater to the market it was in during those years.

Mothers' Day Specials. Source: Ottawa Citizen, April 30, 1977, p. 40.
Mothers’ Day specials. Source: Ottawa Citizen, April 30, 1977, p. 40.

The steak house model does not seem to have been a successful proposition for a restaurant located that far down Bank street in those years. By the early Fall of 1977, the Victoria began to offer topless dancers most nights of the week.1Ottawa Journal, September 10, 1977, p. 49. The dancers may have been more common during the 1970s (especially given a number of its neighbouring establishments), but the poor sanitary conditions were not. It seems to be somewhat rare for it to happen, but L.H. Douglas, a regional health officer took the extraordinary step of closing the restaurant down for failing to comply with orders to clean up.2Ottawa Journal, November 18, 1977, p. 33.

Topless. Source: Ottawa Journal, September 10, 1977, p. 49.
Topless. Source: Ottawa Journal, September 10, 1977, p. 49.

While the restaurant did reopen once the violations were taken care of, by June 1979, it had either changed hands or reopened as Shannon’s.3Ottawa Journal, June 12, 1979, p. 42. Shannon’s, for its own part, was renamed Hooper’s Café in 1980.4Ottawa Citizen, March 27, 1980, p. 31. Though the names may have changed, the troubles remained the same: Hooper’s quickly came to be the setting of a variety Centretown’s “gritty” stories.5”Nine charged in cocaine raids,” Ottawa Citizen, May 28, 1983, p. 8; Colin Languedoc. “Too many drug dealers on Bank Street: alderman,” Ottawa Citizen, July 30, 1984, p. 13.

Notes   [ + ]

1. Ottawa Journal, September 10, 1977, p. 49.
2. Ottawa Journal, November 18, 1977, p. 33.
3. Ottawa Journal, June 12, 1979, p. 42.
4. Ottawa Citizen, March 27, 1980, p. 31.
5. ”Nine charged in cocaine raids,” Ottawa Citizen, May 28, 1983, p. 8; Colin Languedoc. “Too many drug dealers on Bank Street: alderman,” Ottawa Citizen, July 30, 1984, p. 13.

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